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Surviving in Syria

Matar Hasan al-Sajer and his children seek a brighter future in Syria.

"Our life changed considerably during the last three years, now it is completely different. My wife and I lost our jobs and our children are now without a school."

Matar Hasan al-Sajer, a 45-year-old lawyer and father of three girls and three boys, now lives in a camp for displaced people on the outskirts of Al-Mayadin, a city close to the Syria-Iraq border. "These places lack basic facilities such as water, sanitation, roads, heating, food, clothes and healthcare," he says.

More than 250,000 people have fled to the area near Al-Mayadin from across Syria, including major cities such as Aleppo and Homs. Syrian Arab Red Crescent has been supporting thousands of people in camps across the region, providing blankets and access to clean water. "We are trying to teach children inside the camp but it is very hard due to the lack of educational tools," Al-Sajer says.

Before the conflict, the Red Crescent work was mainly focused on health in the Al-Mayadin area. Now, providing food, water and medical care - as well as support for the most vulnerable like older people and those with a disability - is a 24-hour necessity.

Thousands of people have received health and medical care in the past three years. Osama al-Rahabi of Syrian Arab Red Crescent says that supporting so many people has been a serious challenge. "But, in the end we were able to put a smile on people's faces, it was really effective," he says. "Words of gratitude were mixed with tears and smiles."

Earlier this year, a Red Cross Red Crescent aid convoy of five trucks loaded with food and hygiene kits made it to the city. It had been four months since aid could get through. More recently, Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers vaccinated 6000 children against polio, to prevent an outbreak from spreading and causing further suffering across the country.

Photo: IFRC

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